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Derailed Train Spills 230,000 Gallons of Crude Into Flooded Iowa River
Thirty-two cars of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train derailed, 14 of which leaked crude oil into the Rock River in Doon, Iowa. The cause of the derailment is unknown, but officials including Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds attributed it to heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday which led to flooding.
To aid recovery from extreme weather and its consequences, including the derailment, Reynolds issued a proclamation of disaster emergency Saturday for Lyon County, where the train derailed, as well as Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury counties.
Workers so far have contained nearly half the spill—around 100,000 gallons—using booms, BNSF told Reuters.
The oil spill hit the town of Rock Valley, Iowa, which was coping with its second flood in four years, especially hard.
"Our city administrator said to me, 'The only thing we need now is a plane crash,'" Rock Valley mayor Van Otterloo told the Des Moines Register. "Everything came at once."
Rock Valley acted quickly to shut off water wells following the spill and plans to drain the wells and use rural water until the well water tests safe.
There are also concerns that oil could contaminate drinking water in Omaha, Nebraska, 150 miles downstream, since the Rock River merges with the Big Sioux River, which then feeds into the Missouri. Omaha's Metropolitan Utilities District said they were monitoring water pulled from the Missouri, the Des Moines Register reported. The Metropolitan Utilities District said they could source water from unconnected rivers if needed, according to Reuters.
Reynolds told the Des Moines Register it was still unknown how many communities were affected by the oil spill and how it would impact the surrounding environment.
While none of the initial responses mentioned it, last week's flooding and the resulting derailment could be related to climate change. A pre-Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assessment of climate change impacts in the Midwest found that precipitation and storms were projected to increase this century, and precipitation in some areas had already increased by 20 percent.
Cristi Moore, who lives in a trailer park near Rock Valley on land that was flooded both in 2014 and 2018, didn't mention climate change but had noticed a difference in the severity of recent floods. She told the Des Moines Register that before 2014, her levees would have been high enough to combat the highest flood levels.
"This is really weird. That's why I'm saying, 'I'm not smart. I don't know. This is an engineer thing,'" Moore told the Des Moines Register. "What's going on that now we're getting flooded again?"
- Crude Oil Transportation: A Timeline of Failure - Riverkeeper ›
- The Latest: Cleanup of oil from derailment in Iowa begins ›
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By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.
Company Safety Data Sheets on New Chemicals Frequently Lack the Worker Protections EPA Claims They Include
By Richard Denison
Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).
By Grant Smith
From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.
By Brett Walton
When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.
In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.
This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.
If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›